Local connections don’t get more local than Marie Haley, a seventh-generation resident and experienced tour guide in Akaroa, one of New Zealand’s most idyllic ports. The town is so small that Majestic Princess has to tender passengers from ship to shore.
Haley’s fascinating three-hour tour of the coastal community and surrounding farmlands weaves in important Maori cultural sites and history, such as the infamous Te Rauparara massacre that led to the Treaty of Waitangi.
Combining a deep knowledge of Akaroa’s English, French and Maori heritage with her own engaging family history, Haley takes us far from the town’s well-trodden tourist trail.
After morning tea and scones at Heritage Park, with its panoramic views of the vast Akaroa Harbour, we head for Hinewai Reserve and Wildside Conservation Project on blustery Banks Peninsula, where Haley spent much of her childhood.
The soon-to-be mum now lives on a farm in nearby Goughs Bay which she wants to turn into New Zealand’s first designated “quiet farm” where peace and tranquillity reign supreme — a local hero indeed. Tip: Carry rain gear in Akaroa as the weather can turn in an instant.